Rats and eggs? UPDATE: It was a possum!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by PtldChick, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. PtldChick

    PtldChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 15, 2011
    Portland, OR
    I have my first laying EE pullet who 'seems' to have stopped production right after starting. She is my only layer. Last week she layed Tuesday, double-yoker Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, then nothing since. I check the run (~450 sq ft) and nest boxes multiple times/day and haven't found an egg or any evidence of eggs being eaten - no shells or anything. They do not free range (my dogs would like it if they did!). She is quite healthy, active, and not appearing egg bound at all.

    It seems strange for her to not be laying anything for four days after five/six days straight of producing an egg/yolk), but it could just be she's new. Also, she was using my old cat litterbox turned egg box, and then I found the right bottom for the top and switched it out. Right after that, no eggs. So I thought at first maybe she found a new place, but nothing.

    I've left them in the coop a couple times till later in the AM but no egg - the coop is chain link so a rat could get in.

    Portland has a huge rat population, and I have caught a rat in the run, so I was wondering, can a rat carry off a new pullet-sized egg? Or do they eat the entire thing, shell and all? Where's there's one rat, there's bound to be others, in fact I know there is because I've seen another one and the one that was caught got partially eaten. [​IMG] The crafty jerk outwitted my one trap so I got one with a much bigger trigger plate that I can set out. But wouldn't the chickens try to kill it if it came in the coop, or in the run when they are there? BTW, these are not brown mice-looking field rats, these are gross, grey/black city rats - [​IMG].

    I really don't even know if a rat is eating her eggs, just wondering if I can rule it out or not (would I see evidence?). I wish I had a little chicken cam I could put around her neck!

    Thanks, from an impatient new egg mom.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    My Coop
    It's normal for a newly laying hen to have a break in laying. It's all part of their bodies adjusting to laying.

    As for a rat - yes, a rat can make off with an egg. I would think over time, you would see droppings in the run/coop if this were the case.
     
  3. PtldChick

    PtldChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 15, 2011
    Portland, OR
    Thanks, Happy Chooks. I have my EE and her 'sister' in one of the hutches in the coop overnight to see if she lays an egg tomorrow morning. They usually roost on top of them, so it could be she won't like it and doesn't lay because of that!

    Just want to cover my bases since I have seen the nasty critters around before and a friend suggested it. I've found droppings in the garage and previously in the coop feed bags before I started storing it in plastic buckets, which was before I trapped the first one.
     
  4. PtldChick

    PtldChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 15, 2011
    Portland, OR
    Warning: An animal was harmed in the making of this post...

    Last night the dogs were barking up a storm. Turns out there was a young possum underneath the hutches in the chicken coop - they could see it through the chain link.

    Since all the girls were safe up high roosting on the hutch roof, I brought my most trusted dog, Cajun, in with me and showed him where it was - bam! like a snake strike he was down under and back out with the nasty thing in his mouth in seconds. (I don't like possums, never have.) Keep in mind the hutch is only up on 8" cinder blocks and he's full-size male whippet (21.5" at the shoulder, 37 lbs).

    Of course, possums play dead (or more correctly, they faint) so the 'sleeping' live thing wasn't much fun for a bunch of dogs that love to chase. But eventually it was dispatcched (probably from internal injuries). I am disappointed Cajun didn't do the typical 'shake' to break the neck. Perhaps the play dead thing really works. Next time, I may have to let his brother Bo have a shot at it - he has the shake down really well. [​IMG]

    I believe that solves the mystery where Ivory's eggs had gone...she may have taken a new-layer break, but she's laid every day since she 'restarted'. And she's regularly using the cat litter box nest box - yea!

    Darn birds and dogs, why didn't they tell me sooner?
     

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